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Tips for Hiring a Private Detective

5 minute read

By Editorial Staff

Key Takeaways

  • Private detective agencies vary in terms of services offered and prices, so do your research before committing.
  • Private detectives are a great way to find out information that you may not be able to get yourself.
  • Although they have a reputation for digging into sleazy stuff, private investigators can do much more than follow spouses.

There may come a time in your life when you feel that something is not right. Whether it’s the feeling that a spouse isn’t being loyal, a family member is up to something shady, or even something as unique as tracking someone down.

When these situations arise, you may not have the skills or the time to do the research yourself. This is when you should seek the help of a private investigator. Private investigators are a good way to conduct an investigation discreetly and without arousing suspicion. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before taking the plunge. Here are some of the best tips to know when looking to hire an investigator.

Look for Customer Testimonials and Reviews

The Internet should be your first stop. Just as the investigator is going to investigate your case, you must also do your research on them. When looking for a company to hire, read customer reviews and testimonials from the most popular companies.

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You’ll want to make sure the reviews are good, with an emphasis on speed and confidentiality. Save the highest-quality companies and contact them, while discarding the low-rated ones. When it comes to private investigators, you want the best you can get.

Don’t Settle for Cheap

You get what you pay for. This is especially true with private investigators. Although it may be tempting to go to a company or investigator that offers rock-bottom prices, you absolutely want to avoid those. In general, low prices mean you’re dealing with one of a few potential realities:

In all those cases, that won’t work. You should be prepared to hire the most expensive investigator you can afford to ensure that you are receiving quality work from an expert.

Meet in Person or by Video Call

A private investigator is a bit like a doctor. You will want to meet with them face-to-face or via video call. It’s the best way to get to know them, and by meeting in person, you’ll be able to see what their office is like. Are they scattered and buried under a mountain of papers, or are they organized? These are important things to look at.

By seeing them, you will also be able to take note of their reactions when you explain your needs and expectations.

Ask for Their License

In general, private investigators must be licensed to practice their trade.1 The last thing you want to do is hire an investigator who is not licensed, as this opens up many potential problems, including legal problems.

Asking to see an investigatorr’s license is completely acceptable and should be one of the first things you ask of them, even before you explain your needs to them. If the investigator refuses to show your license immediately, that should be a red flag and force you to look elsewhere.

They Must Be Insured

Another important thing to request is proof of insurance. Any private investigator who operates a business or legal practice must have insurance. This is a vital requirement, as it removes any and all responsibility from you in the event something happens to the investigator while on your case.

In fact, this should be the second thing you request from them, right after their license. This is also another good reason why meeting in person is a great idea.

Ask About Qualifications

Qualifications and experience are important, especially if you are paying a premium for them. Don’t be afraid to ask a private investigator about their experience. While many investigators come from a law enforcement background, others have taken classes and developed skills over time. While this is definitely something to ask during a meeting, you can quickly gather some information about them by reading their website.

It is also important to note that investigators are not suitable for all cases. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, so be sure to gauge their comfort level and experience with the type of case you are entrusting them with.

Ask for Samples

A good way to see how thorough an investigator can be is to ask for samples from past cases. Some reputable companies will show you the type of case files they can collect, as well as the depth of information. They should also be able to tell you how they see themselves conducting the investigation and preparing the case files. This is a good way to get an idea of how you can expect the information to be collected, compiled and presented.

See if They Are Part of a Professional Organization

Many well-known investigators and companies are often part of a larger professional organization. Although this is not always the case, it can be a great sign that the investigator or company you are looking to hire is passionate about their work and is committed to keeping up with the latest legislation and professional standards.

For example, the Society of Private Investigators operates in the State of New York.2 Check with your local city or region to see if there are general organizations that your private investigator or business can be a member of.

What Can I Use an Investigator For?

There are many reasons why you may resort to hiring a private investigator. While one of the most common reasons is when a spouse is suspected of infidelity, that’s not the only thing they can handle.

For example, you can hire a private investigator to search for someone in particular, such as a missing loved one. In many cases, companies also hire a private investigation firm to shadow employees when they suspect workers’ compensation fraud. You can use a private investigator for just about any case you can think of.

Are Private Investigators Legal?

Yes. Private investigators, as long as they are licensed and insured, are perfectly legal for you to hire and put on cases. It is important to remember that private investigators are not considered law enforcement professionals, although many may have experience in that field. Although they can track, follow, and take photos or notes, they are not above the law and probably won’t be able to go any further than a normal civilian would.

When Should I Hire an Investigator?

The only person who can answer that question is you. If you’ve been having trouble finding someone or suspect someone has done something wrong, then you should definitely consider hiring one.

A private investigator should be considered an extension of yourself, as they will do all the research and follow up you would need to do, thus freeing up a lot of time for you. As professionals, they will also be able to provide you with all the case information you need and help you make decisions.

Start Your Research

Private investigators can provide peace of mind or critical information in a large number of situations. Using state-of-the-art equipment and expert strategies, you can be sure you’ll get the information you need.

How you use that information is up to you, but you will get what you paid for and be able to make informed decisions. If there’s something in your life or business that doesn’t feel right to you, but you can’t figure out what it is, don’t hesitate to find a private investigator and let them tell you.

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